by Zeke Wood
For generations, my family has been involved in the military. The most famous in the family was my great grandpa, Charles “Chuck” Byron Wood. He was in the Air Force during and after World War II. During his 25 years of service, he did many things. Originally, he wanted to become a pilot, which did not work out, but he became an officer. Eventually during WWII, he became a lieutenant. After the war, he became a civilian and worked for United Airlines in Denver Colorado, but in 1948 he was called back into the military. Shortly afterwards, he went to Frankfurt, Germany, to serve there during the Berlin Airlift. Soon after that he was transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to work on nuclear bombs. He then was transferred to the Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, which he went back and forth to many times. He also went to Guam. During this time with nuclear testing, he witnessed many bombs go off, including one that allowed him to see the skeletons of his comrades. Eventually he retired after coming to the Norton AFB, San Bernardino, California. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1963. While most of his comrades did die from cancer, mostly likely caused by the radiation, he died at 102 years old in May of 2020.
While Great Grandpa Wood was the most famous in the family for serving the country, others in my family also served for a time. My other great grandpa, whom I knew, also served in the Air Force, but for the Canadians during WWII. His wife served for the Americans, as a nurse in WWII. My great uncle also served, although his time was far more gruesome. He served in Vietnam. My family knows little information about his time in Vietnam, due to the mental problems it caused him, but we know a few things. For instance, we know that, except for him, his entire squad was killed during the war. One story that my father tells is that while he and the family were in DC, my great uncle went to the Vietnam memorial and started crying. My Dad asked why. My Great Uncle, Steve answered, “My friend was killed, and I didn’t know till now. He was supposed to come home three weeks after I left.” This is all we know about my Uncle Steve’s service. The topic of Vietnam is something we as a family never talk to him about as it has scarred him for life.
Another uncle of mine also served for the military as a US Army Ranger. He took the position of sniper and is now a police officer. My cousin is also currently in the Air Force. He is also a great grandchild of my great grandpa, and he became the very thing my Great Grandpa Wood wanted to be, a pilot. As a matter of fact, my cousin, whose name is Jason Hires, graduated earlier this year at the Air Force Academy.
Well, this is for the most part my family’s history with the military, a very extensive one. I’ve had family members serve all around the world.